Friday, September 25, 2009

Publications/Productivity

Have been wondering about the question of productivity/publicity recently. How important it is to get published? How important are publications as a testimony of one's productivity? My own answer to the second question would be, yes, publications do kind of testify to a writer's productivity. But it is also a very public form of acknowledgement. Yes, I mean acknowledgement. Also, it's a form of approval. We all like them. The approvals and affirmations I mean. I know I do. It's wonderful to see someone acknowledge my work in the form of publishing a poem/a story/ an essay in their journals. It also tells me, I am not writing shit. This is not to deny the fact that a lot of shit do get published and a lot of gems don't. And sometimes, it needs a huge amount of inner strength on the part of the writer/artist to keep on believing the essential quality of one's own work, keep on producing it, honing one's art and craft, even when the approvals of the publishing industry are not pouring in. Luckily, the history of world literature is full of these examples. So, whenever anyone is in doubt, one can turn to these examples, derive strength from them. But then, there is also the pressure to publish. Publish or perish, as we say it in the academic world. Honestly, who would like to perish? So we go on sending stuff out, even when they need more work, more brewing, more marination! I guess, I am one of those writers who would rather like to take one's own time to learn, before getting published.

It's okay if I am not described as "prolific." It's okay if I have only one book in me! Even if Arundhati Roy doesn't produce any more work of fiction, she will be remembered for her God of Small Things. And that's what matters. What matters is doing the hard work. Pouring oneself out for that one work that's within us. Getting ourselves to the writing table and the battle-field everyday. Pushing our work to places where it's hard to go otherwise! And after that, one can only hope to be noticed by some journal/publisher/whatever. If not, email the work to one's friends. If they like it, they will email it to their friends. And as it is, I don't expect my work to be read by more than 200 people. Hopefully, if I ever succeed to write something meaningful, it wouldn't be hard to find that number of people from amongst my friends and friends' friends and friends' friends' friends.

Like everything else, the concept of "productivity" is a historical-social construct. For me, it is important to not fall into the trap of its most dominant social definition. Rather, often times I need to re-define the term for myself, and then work accordingly. The test is, to keep myself accountable to my own definition of production and productivity.

And if you haven't guessed yet, it's not any kind of writer's block that prompted this post. But, the rejections:))))))))))

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What Have I Been Writing About?

I have been looking through the poems I have written during the last couple of years. And yes, also re-visiting some of them. Ahem, trying to revise, that is. As usual, it's not an easy process. I am getting stuck at places, often wondering and asking myself what the heck was I trying to say in these lines. So basically, I am trying to go back to that phase in my life, trying to remember the psychological state I was in, trying to think back the bigger questions that were perturbing me. In a way, one can say, it's a process that requires a certain kind of continuous historicization of my own self. I mean, there is no way that such a process can be "objective," or "full-proof" in any way, but it's a very personal attempt on my part to understand my own growth as a person and writer better.I find that process hard, both artistically and emotionally.

Of course, re-visiting a poem actually requires that I become more rigorous with words. Rigorous with that process through which we transform raw emotions into poetic forms and speech. But more than that, I find this act of re-visiting/re-visioning needs introspection. Honest introspection. And frankly, these days, I find it's hardest to be honest with one's own self. Really! And that's why I guess, it's also hard to be honest in one's own artistic productions. It's much much easier to acquire skills, but combining skills with personal/political honesty, well, that's not just hard, but something that requires life-long commitment to art, living, and most importantly, at least for me, the will and stubbornness to change as a person. Change for better. (One of the reasons I have always been drawn to Mao's thoughts. I mean, change yourself. change this world, is pretty dense, right? And anyone who writes that, his/her thoughts have to be interesting, eh?) But, as usual, I am failing. Failing horribly in this project too as in everything else.

The other thing is, I can now reveal a pattern in my work of the last two years or so. More than anything else, I think, I have been taken up by the relationship between creativity and gender. In short, exploring some of the historical dimensions of creativity. And that does make sense. I have never been much of a believer in those theories of "spontaneous" creativity or art-making. So, it does make sense when I see in my poems, no matter how badly they have been written, I have tried to make sense of the process of artistic creation in social, historical terms. It's sometimes scary to see how your poems, written over a specific period of time, can reveal issues which you have been trying to make sense of in your real life. My writings have always given me these spaces within which I try to process and work through some of my "real-world" concerns and crises. Maybe, that's what all poets or writers do? I don't know. Or is it at all possible that one reaches a stage where all one does is to repeat oneself, without letting one's audience/readers know that it's indeed repetition? I mean, is it at all possible that you create only with your skills and not with your concerns about this world and life? The logic of capital tells me, it indeed is. My writer-self refuses to believe. Seriously?

Reading Cornelius Eady's You Don't Miss Your Water now. The very precision of his language makes me want to cry! Did I ever tell you I am an extremely sentimental reader?